Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity had an unfortunately different appeal to make on what many people bill as Giving Tuesday.
The Habitat chapter, based in Independence and serving much of Eastern Jackson County, is looking to replace most of its supply of power tools, which were stolen out of a trailer sometime last week at the group's facility on Dodgion Street.
“We found out the day before Thanksgiving,” Truman Habitat President/CEO Christina Leakey said. “Our Wednesday crew is a group of retirees who come to build with us. They showed up for work and found all the power tools were missing out of one of two standard box construction trailers.”
Those wishing to donate toward replacing tools can visit www.trumanhabitat.org and click on the appropriate link.
Leakey said they are unsure when exactly the theft took place, as they didn't have a build day the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. As of Tuesday, the group hadn't compiled a complete inventory of the stolen tools, Leakey said, but the total value is at least $5,000, perhaps close to $10,000.
“We collect a lot of tools in various stages of use,” Leakey said.
There is an outside camera at the facility, but the theft wasn't in the camera's field of vision, Leakey said. The thief or thieves busted the trailer's padlock and tellingly left behind ladders, paint brushes, nails and screws, and left the other trailer untouched.
“It was clear they took the most valuable tools, looking for the biggest return,” Leakey said. “They took the battery packs and chargers – they got everything that was required to run them.”
Since many Habitat volunteers don't have much, if any, prior construction experience, power tools are especially valuable with the group. Even beyond Habitat, Leakey said, the theft also victimizes citizens who stand to benefit from the group's projects, as well as Habitat's donors.
Currently, Habitat has five home build projects – two new houses and three substantial rehabilitations –
“It's a significant setback, of course,” Leakey said. “It's not a victimless crime, in many ways.”
After volunteers discovered the crime last week, they made sure it wasn't a completely lost day.
“A lot of them went home and got tools from their homes so they could work that day,” Leakey said, “which is great, but our average volunteer is just trying to get experience and probably doesn't have those tools.”
Independence Police spokesperson John Syme said police have not located any other camera footage or been able to develop any leads or suspects in the case.